Archaeologists Discover an 18th-Century Plaque Commemorating the Departure of Jews from Lithuania to the Land of Israel

July 22 2019

Excavating the remains of the Great Synagogue in Vilnius (formerly Vilna), researchers made an unexpected discovery this summer, as Agence France-Presse reports:

The stone plaque was discovered in a cellar below . . . the Great Synagogue of Vilnius, [which was the city’s] major Jewish house of prayer before it was destroyed by [consecutive] Nazi and Soviet regimes. “In 1776 we went up with joy to our land (Erets Yisrael),” reads part of the inscription. It uses [a form of] the Hebrew word [la’alot, meaning to go up, as in the term] aliyah, referring to the immigration of Jews from the diaspora to the land of Israel. . . .

The Vilnius synagogue, dating from the 1630s, was the most important synagogue for Lithuania’s once-vibrant Jewish community. Last year, archaeologists announced they had discovered the synagogue’s bimah, the podium or platform from which the Torah is read. The plaque . . . was discovered later in a cellar beneath the bimah. . . .

The Nazis burned down the synagogue and the remains were later demolished by the Soviet regime that built a kindergarten, later turned into a primary school, on the property.

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Read more at Israel National News

More about: Aliyah, East European Jewry, Synagogues, Vilna

With Talk of Annexation, Benny Gantz Sends a Message to the U.S.

Jan. 24 2020

On Tuesday, the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, who is campaigning for a third time to oust Benjamin Netanyahu from the Israeli premiership, announced that if elected he will seek to annex the Jordan Valley. He added the important caveat that he wants to do so “in coordination with the international community”—a promise that, as many have pointed out, is nearly impossible to fulfill. While it is easy to speculate about the political calculations behind this pledge, Jonathan Tobin suggests that it is also intended as a message to American liberals:

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Read more at JNS

More about: Benny Gantz, Democrats, Israeli Election 2020, Jordan Valley, U.S. Politics